Why I Always Go Back to Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand

Why Backpackers Love Khao San Road?
I arrived from the airport to my second home in Thailand, the criss-crossing of crazy streets is parallel to the kind of nightlife that is only here and nowhere else in the world, it's never ending. Khao San road, my home away from home.

Even before you get here, you have probably heard about too many good and awful stories of Khao San. The famous opening sequences of Richard’s odyssey in finding the most perfect “beach” in the movie of the same name. Although, the scene was actually shot in Phuket(which is pronounce as pu-ket), it showed a tremendous ordeal on what to expect when you arrive. Chaos, madness, too many travelers opting to hang out with fellow travelers. Rats, cockroaches, $1 fried rice, travel agencies galore and home to the most famous line of all… “Hey, you want a tuk-tuk?”

Oh yes, the good, the bad and the ugly. How can you blame it? After almost two decades of existence since the first few travelers set foot in the land of smiles, it has grown into a monster economy booster for Thailand. Walking around khao san road is pretty much a treat in itself. Where else can you see drunk Russians and their local thai men flings? Where else can you see aussies walking barefoot in a rat infested street ( they call it mickey mouse here)? Where else can you see walk ins at 4AM looking for the cheapest possible guesthouse to stay, side by side with yesterdays arrival? I say only in Khao San where loneliness is impossible to exist. Where too many travelers in one major street is a major understatement. Where friendship knows no boundaries.

I first set foot in Khao San road rougly two years ago back when I first traveled from Singapore to Malaysia and then Thailand. Bangkok was my last stop after nearing a month’s travel around South East Asia. I got my first touch of Khao San when I arrived via train from Surrathani. For anyone looking for 200 baht rooms, this is where you will go. This is the highest concentration of anything cheap and backpacker-ish. I arrived in the middle of the day, first impressions will last you forever. And even if I just recently went back a few days ago, I can still remember vividly how it looks like the first time. Lonely farangs drinking their semi-cold Chang beers alone in a bar, women who were obviously still relishing post full moon party with their tattered shirt filled with paints waiting for the long line to have their dreads untangled or yet re-worked. The banks were closed when I got here the first time. It was national holiday, the sister of the king died. And everyone was weeping in tears. The sorrow can be felt just by looking at the eyes of people passing on drinks and food to their fellow men as they await for the vigil to be happened that night. Looking very much Thai literally,someone handed me a bottle of water and Pad Thai in those ketchy banana leaves. I was wearing a black wrinkled tee and everybody must have thought I was very much a local paying tribute to the beloved. I continued walking in the heat of the day. I successfully found one money changer and changed handful of dollars and some more Malaysian ringgit bills I didn’t use because I pretty much wanted to exit Kuala Lumpur as soon as I got there. That’s a different story. I checked in my room at a hotel in Soi 1, a few blocks away from Khao San Road. A room where the lock is always not working, where I always need to talk to this lovely young girl cleaning the guesthouse every fifteen minutes. I caught her the next day painting her face with pink tints. 

There’s a whole world out there in Khao San, from shopping well edited merchandise, to listening to really cool trance music buzzing in their made in china speakers and the too many restaurants and bars littered along this edge of the world. 

Less than a year after, I came back with a few people I traveled with but pretty much wanted to leave at first sight. A brawling incident, dirty stalls selling hand made (literally) banana pancakes, and policemen walking back and forth. I couldn’t blame them. To each his own. And Khao San Road to be honest is a hit or miss. Love it or hate it. Stay or leave. 

A few days ago i found myself walking along Khao San Road like it's my local neighborhood, it brought back memories of how it has become so homey, I don’t blame people when they don’t want to leave Khao San. A cool hang-out for people who love to party, a special place where travelers from around the world converge all in praise of how beautiful the country is, where a few dollars can last you a few days. Where travelers either start or end their journey in Thailand or South East Asia. Where goody goody bankers chat up with freaks of all kinds. Street performers, binge drinkers, lady boys, and local young teeners showcasing their latest fashion. Its all here.

A lot of people may say otherwise and think khao san road is bullshit. Where commercialism is slowly eating up its once glory and where it leaves a bad impression for travelers as crazy, disrespectful, rowdy individuals. But can you blame it with millions of adventure hungry travelers stopping by Bangkok every hour, everyday, every week of the month and the year. Would you rather sleep on the street or a shitty hotel? Would you rather eat at 7-11 all the time or maybe try those hot new cooked pad Thai for cheap? We get what we ask for. And i don't think we have a right to complain eh?

I say this, if you don’t like Khao San Road, sure you can stay around Sukhumvit and or Lumphini, heaps of other places around Bangkok. But from my last experience, when I tried traversing across Bangkok, hoping to find the next khao san road somewhere out there, what I experienced was the trashiest most unbelievably impolite treatment I’ve ever had. I was almost thrown out when I paid more than I should have. So I hopped on a taxi and went straight to Khao San. A few minutes later with my next bottle of Big Chang and a good conversation with new arrivals to Bangkok, I spent my last few days trying to understand why sometimes people begin to hate what they used to love. It's not that easy you know. With all the wrong reasons and maybe a few right ones, I love khao san road. Where honesty is the best policy. Where I feel more safe than sorry. Where I make friends from around the world. Where I get drunk on my first night and felt really good because it was worth it. Where you will never feel homesick because it feels like home…

Bangkok is a good few days stay, a week the most, but if you ask me, I will always go back to Khao San Road where I know I am home.

Bangkok, Thailand's Most Beautiful Park - Phra Sumen Fort

STORY: I don't know why but whenever i am in Bangkok, i always try to find solitude in an area that's massively chaotic. I always try to find peace in a place where silence is a luxury. And starting from Khao San Road, all the time, i always wind up going to this place, very same place, very same spot always. It's called Phra Sumen Fort. If you're doing it on foot and walking around Khao San Road and Banglamphu, it's probable that the only place where a white fortress can be seen is this.

One of the two remaining forts in old Bangkok, Fort Phra Sumen was constructed in 1783 to fortify the old city during the reign of King Rama I. When Bangkok was established as the new capital, forts were built to cover the Chao Phraya River. The defensive rings of canals protected the old city to the east. 

The fort is sited at the confluence of the Chao Phraya River and the Banglamphu Canal which was the second ring of canals to be built around the old city of Bangkok in 1782. The first canal was Lord Canal just east of the Grand Palace. 

The Banglamphu Canal joins up with the Ong-Ang Canal and extents all the way to the Chao Phraya River to the south, forming a moat to the east of the old city. With the Chao Phraya River to the west, the old city is virtually an island, thus the name Rattanakosin Island. 

The fort has two levels of battlements where cannons are deployed and an observation tower. It covers the bend of the Chao Phraya River at the northern end of Rattanakosin Island. The old cannons are still in place. 

Located right smack in the middle of the city, this complex or fortress, as it's most commonly known, is a great difference to the hustle and bustle of the rest of Bangkok City. With green grass, blue skies, and a great view of the river, going here is always a treat, to unwind, and let time not pass you by. 

Santichaiprakarn Park

No wonder many people go here to relax, read a book, listen to music, meditate, recover from a bad hang-over from last night. The chirping of the birds, the quietness of the surroundings, and the calmness of the people - all make this place truly a gem in the city. You can also watch time as it passes you by here. I never miss going to this place over and over again. The first time i went here was to think about life and the many ramblings in my head. The second time i went here was to recuperate from a really bad hang-over courtesy of Chang. Third time i went here just to cool off and lie down for a second after an exhausting marathon. Sometimes, the city will get into your nerve.

I highly recommend spending an afternoon here catching up and just breathing in. Life has its tolls. Traveling to Thailand may sometimes take the most out of you, so it's best to lie down, chill for a bit and enjoy what a great sunny day it is.

Additional information courtesy from here

Is Japan getting old?

It took me about three months to draft this story just because I was finding myself thinking whether it’s something most of you, my dear readers, would understand and relate to. I mean, we’re all hungry for adventure and we reckon’ every post must be made up of thrills, frills and excitement.

This time, I am writing to you about something I realized when I went to Japan.
In the land of the rising sun, there are more old people that I have seen than the youth. I am surprised but more curious how this came to be. When we talk of Japan, we think of high-tech gadgets, latest trends and anime. We think of the power of the youth and how it has influenced each and every country in the world.

I was running from the underground shopping mall in Osaka. I was breezing through a sea of people who appeared to be excited for the night’s clubbing in downtown Dotonburi when I came across an old lady. She’s a little over sixty with her steel walker and trying her best with the steps. I stopped for a bit and tried my best to make her feel more comfortable. She signaled It’s okay. I walked away with a burden. 

I was riding the train in Hiroshima when I stopped to look at my fellow passengers. I can attest to that I was, maybe, one of the less than 20 people below 40 years old. I’ve seen men and women, them with their wrinkled face and eyes that speak so much of their past. In the land where the greatest destruction to man happened, I was bound to face the truth. These people have endured pain and sufferings. Yet, they’re still here living their lives like us.

And the photo that made it to the story is an old charming lady, roughly a little over 70 was walking uphill in the mountains of Saitama in Fukuoka. I couldn’t help but wonder how it must be for her to go through the many steps and steep climbs just to go up and meditate.

The old people of Japan have been an eye-opener to me more than I think it should. In Japan, nearly 1 in every four people are aged 65 years old and above. In 2010, around 4.6 million elderly lived alone across the country. And the number of them who died at home rose to 61% from 2003. Indeed, Japan is getting old.

I went out for lunch with my friend and her family, one day. I’ve seen joy through the eyes of the old people as they look at the babies, cute and cuddly. I’ve never seen a more happy elderly, since then. 

Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand: A First-Timer's Travel Diary

ULTIMATE THROWBACK POST FROM 2008 REMEMBERED: So this is Bangkok.... Big Time City. I love it already. It's dirty but worth the trip.

I arrived during midday, and i was sweating big time. I was wearing my black tee. Yeah, good choice. I couldn't stand anymore the heat. When i arrived, it was chaos everywhere. A lot of people in black clothing parading the busy streets. Some where seating and chatting, most local thai people were walking. Some women were crying. Good thing though, busy Khao San was car-free. I've heard a lot about Bangkok traffic. It was closed. I still didn't know yet what was happening. I walked and walked, trying to find Soi 1. Originally, i wanted to stay in Soi guesthouse, hostel named a guesthouse. I tried to cross the bridge. This was the view.

When i crossed the bridge , i saw Pasig River. It's a dirty canal with houses built next to wooden sticks and shit. Nothing like the waters of Southern Thailand. And the ambiance of tropical islands. I walked there and saw numerous pictures of a Thai lady in the palace. Must have been the queen, eh. I walked in wonder.

Apparently, it was the sister of the King. I passed by a small gathering of local Thais giving food and drinks to people. That's what i find interesting in Bangkok, whenever there's a special gathering going on, they supply everyone food and drinks for free. Little did i know, that someone would pass a bottled water to me. I was shocked. I didn't know what to do. Should i give it back? Or is it rude? He must have thought i was Thai and that i was wearing black for the obvious reasons. I said thank you. And he looked at me wondering... "You're no thai, brotha'!"

I continued to walk. I checked my money. Okay, i didn't lose my money but i have no Thai bahts left. I need to exchange my money. How will i be able to stay in any guesthouse without giving a down payment for the room? I searched the nearest foreign currency exchange. it was closed. One local i talked to said, banks are closed during holiday. I asked... "What holiday". He pointed the big picture of the Thai lady in the throne. He said... "She died!". Oh. No. because it's bad enough someone would die and whats worse is i don't have money because banks are closed. 

I tried my best to carry the heavy duffel while pursuing the heat of midday sun. On my way, i got to experience how it is to walk in Khao San Road. The ratio of people here is worse than Krabi town. Farangs to local Thais are 3:1. They're that many. Most of the people i saw were seating on pubs and bars drinking beer, chatting and men making their moves on local Thai girls. A lot of old people alone. Yeah, i think i know why. The place is huge but it's packed. You can get everything here: food, medicines, accommodations, beers, crickets (yeah, yeah) and of course Thai massages both for the clean and naughty stuff. And then, like an oasis in the middle of the desert, there it was - Foreign Currency Change. Oh yeah, most definitely. I changed my US dollars to Thai baht. I'm rich again. Just kiddin'. I returned back to where i was to find Soi 1 . I asked locals where Soi 1 was.

I am officially bad at map reading. I couldn't find a place next to where i am at specifically. And the fatigue was killing me. I almost lost my patience. It says it's right here, then where is it??? I tried walking. I saw a lot of hotels. I didn't wanna go in and check because i don't like staying in hotels not only because it's expensive, but because people who stay in hotels in Bangkok are business people. One lesson learned is Bangkok doesn't have hostels. Soi 1 guesthouse is a hostel priced at 350 baht/night... The city has guesthouses.

I walked around. Used the internet for a while to research for any recommended guesthouses nearby, from lonely planet. Originally, i wanted to stay in Khao San road. But something was telling me to go  and just walk. And so, I did just that. I saw a really good looking Thai girl which happens to be Claudia. I asked her if she knew were soi 1 is. She said..."It's here"... And somewhere in between our mostly hand gestures than talk, she said... "we have a guesthouse for you". I walked with her. And came to Sinat Guesthouse. My home for almost a week.

At first, i looked in the fourth floor of the really quaint guesthouse as i needed to see the room. The room was huge, it was a fan room, with two beds combined, and breezy. I said, "i just grab Pepsi in can first and then i smoke, okay?" To cut the long story short, i left and tried to look for some more, asked and asked and came back to Sinat because i think i found a really really good price for a room that's real beauty. I paid.... 180 baht/night. I am soooo sooo happy i stayed in this dope guesthouse.

I was seating in the front of the restaurant when a tall white boy appeared and greets the girls Thai Sawadee something. He's staying in the guesthouse as well. Thank goodness somebody else is staying. I don't wanna stay in a place where i'm the lone visitor. (This was 2008, guys.) After a few minutes, an old american guy with his son went downstairs and left. I knew i would be staying here already so i went up to the Thai girl and introduced myself and said "I'm staying." 

Immediately when i said that, she asked me where i'm from i said Philippines. She just smiled. I signed the form, showed my passport and i was escorted to my room. I love that room. Room 42.

I can still remember. 42 was changed from room something because i could still see the old number, somehow. I lied down on my bed. Took a breath. It was a looong journey getting to where i was at that time. I fixed my stuff. I have so many soiled clothes, i need to do my laundry. I needed to take a shower to freshen up. I went downstairs to borrow some towels because i didn't bring any. Don't bring towels, they'll bulk up your bag. 

So, there i was talking to the Thai girl who was listening to her MP3 player and sweeping the floors. She looks a lot like a Filipina. I said "can i borrow a towel?" She didn't understand what i was saying. Oh no! That went on for ten minutes or so till finally used my hand gestures. I was showing her... Shower with waters dropping on my face and then me wiping my body. Toweel! Toweel! And then she said, okay! 


But this picture was taken the next day, we got to know each other very well. Adam and I were fooling around with the Thai girls at Sinat Guest House. Fun Times there! I miss them all!

She continued what she was doing, sweeping the otherwise squeeky clean receiving area, and humming some tunes. I couldn't believe it. It went on for ten more minutes till the white boy who i saw earlier went up to her and asked for the same thing. Towels! I just said... "I've been here for close to thirty minutes, but she's not getting my towels, she's just cleaning..." When he talked to the thai girl again. That changed her mind. She said... "ok, ok!". We got our towels. The white boy is actually a friendly guy. I took a shower and went downstairs to meet up with him for some snack. That's good as i have no idea where to go in Bangkok and it's getting dark already. We went to a hawker stall a few blocks away from my guesthouse and ordered some Thai fried rice. Talked for a while. He's working in Canada and he saved up big time so he can travel for two years. His next stop, Pnom Penh and then to India Pre-Bombing in Mumbai. And he told me "i didn't know you was not thai! I said, why the fuck is he speaking in straight english!". I said, Filipinos are the best! By the way, that white boy is Adam and he's from Calgary. He's now my long lost brother from Canada.

The next few days were spent me waking up around 9AM pretty hungry, i always hang out with Adam so we go wherever in the afternoon, tag team, drink beer, chase Thai girls, make a full of ourselves ( some Thai girl almost slapped us in the face) and swears (fuck, asshole, sucker shit) all the time. Oh, and play a lot of hip-hop tunes, play cards and show off magic tricks, get drunk and get some shit and say good night to Claudia and Nok, the Thai girls at Sinat.

What to see in Bangkok.

Bangkok is a big, big city. It's impossible that you can't find something to do here. There's always something to do somewhere. Go, and just find it. Walking alone either in the morning or at night is advisable. It's pretty safe around here. 

I walk sometimes at around 3AM, and i'm still in one piece. Walking instead of riding a cab or Tuk-Tuk is great as you can see the many sights, sounds, smells of the the city. And you can kiss goodbye the annoying Bangkok traffic jam. I did walk to the Canal where you can get a boat stopping at different points. Adam went to a hospital museum where they preserve decapitated heads, bones, and fetuses. I didn't go there. 

For the first time in my life, i stepped on canal water and it's in Bangkok. Good Job! I couldn't resist it, honestly, there's no choice for me... it's either i go back again for 2 kilometers or i brave the water for 10 seconds. I did the later and nothing happened so it's ok. You can find also the best beef fried rice in Bangkok near the canal. The meat was tender, there were lots of garlic and pepper. I was so full. It's nice to be full and then walk again. And the canal in late afternoon is a good spot to dine, breezy and good view of boats docking.

Some days, Adam would read his Indian traveler book. It's a pretty thick book. The plot is quite interesting as it is about some backpacker travelling across India.

And i would walk alone to the different temples and palaces and parks. 

But i guess, it wasn't really my journey to oggle at the temples and the palaces. It was bad timing for me because there was a procession going on, the king is going to the grand palace. Everyone's just waiting for his arrival. Everything's closed. Everything stops because of his highness.

I savored the moment and took pictures of myself with the high walls covering the majestic palace and temple. I didn't even have an idea what it is, as i wasn't able to go inside. 

I also went to arts museum to see what's Bangkok Art Scene like, This picture below is a graffiti i saw made out of spray paint in an abandoned glasshouse. It's young and punk!

...and i'm really surprised because the paintings and the sculptures in the museum was engaging, thought provoking, witty but it was idealistic. I am not an expert in Art, but their art is amazing. It doesn't need all that tags as impressionist, abstract, etc. One painting that i couldn't forget was that of an underage high school girl painting her lips with red lipstick while looking at the mirror. From that moment i saw the painting, i knew what it was all about. And i didn't have to say it was getting ready for prostitution, right?

Which leads us to Bangkok's infamous nightlife. Bangkok is alive at night. 

You can find whatever you're looking for here, literally. Walk straight up, you can find decent bars with really loud jungle and drum n' bass music in Khao San. It's on the second floor of a forgettable shop below. There's a billiards table there, some Heineken and a lot of American girls still drinking buckets. You know right away they came from Koh Phangan. Really good vibe going on!

There's also a bar that's so lit up in orange, it's packed, mostly Europeans, there's big LCD screen showing some football and really annoying pop music. You'll notice it right away.

Walk up and you'll see numerous massage parlors for a really sweet Thai massage at under 200 baht for three hours, i guess. And the hawkers stall that doesn't sleep, they're there 24 hours! Lovely.

But if you're on a tight budget like me, you can drink in a standing room only bar. I down beer everyday. Sometimes, i start mid afternoon, and walk around and then freshen up at the guesthouse for a while and come back to party some more. And you may be surprised to see some impromptu drum beats playing, a lot of percussionists, and hippes dancing. My kind of place!

But, it's night time again the next day. Time to hit the bars, my friend. Went to Khao San Road. It was simply amazing. I said this many many times... It's fuckin' alliiiivvvveee!!! 

You can see lights from bars, stalls selling clothes, cheap finds, and a lot of beautiful Thai girls walking by. Immediately, we both found something in common. Giiirrrrllllssss! Every night, is a night to look forward to. Went to a bar in one of the many alleys, i ordered for a Lao beer as highly recommended by Adam, he ordered some fruit shake. He just doesn't drink beer, he sure gulps liters and liters of water and electrolytes. And i'm acidic with soft drinks in the afternoon and a lot of beers at night. 

We saw a Thai girl seated opposite to us. She was drinking rhum coke. Lovely lady. Oh, how expensivo in Manila is Jack Daniels, it's actually dirt cheap in bangkok. We approached the Thai girl and chatted for a while. We introduced ourselves to her, and she did as well. She's a salon shop owner who part times as a dj. Wow! And then it ended... relax guys, it's not what you're thinking. That's the beauty of Thailand. Expect the unexpected. As we were trying to pay for our drinks. By the way, Lao beer is pretty strong beer, 1 big bottle and i'm smiling shit already. So, back to paying - little did we know, she paid for our drinks. She did. All of it. We were so thankful, but its still some Thai baht saved. You'll need it later, you'll see. So you see, a little smile and friendly vibe, and you get to meet new friends, get good company, and most of all - get free drinks for the night.

And of course, there's Patpong. I've not been to Pattaya 1 and 2. Yes there are two Pattayas. I guess there's a clamor for you know. Anyway, i won't go into details because it's not proper to write about anyone's experience to Patpong, not in detail i suppose. But it's really weird to see giant sign of Super Pussy Bar while kids are playing around while their moms are buying fake bags. Just weird. 

Every street in Patpong has something for your liking. Walk along. You'll know it. So, we got to Cocos, it's a bar in Patpong. We rode a taxi going to this place at around 80 baht. Good thing, Adam met up with Roslyn, he's the boyfriend of the beautiful Thai girl at Sinat. So at least won't get ripped off or anything like that. We got inside to a bar that has no cover charge. We went inside. Ordered for some Tiger beer. BTW, be careful with your money as some of old Thai waitresses get your change as their tips. Yeah, right! Don't give it to them. That's why it's called a tip. No more details after, i'm a gentleman!... Just these two saying Wow!


On the left corner is Roslyn whose Thai but says to the girls he's Malaysian, I, obviously taking the picture is honest to say i'm from the Philippines but they won't believe me, Adam says he has to admit he's thai! Craaaazy night!

We left the bar and saw a wiiiild huge elephant's ass roaming around the city. I actually have a picture of it, what is this poor creature doing here in this sleazy side of Bangkok? WTF? 

I can honestly say that there's so much to explore in Bangkok at night. If you're not up for Patpong, there's a lot of small bars, and huge dance clubs around. Bangkok is bustling now. You can find your way around, just talk to people. They'll help you out find your way to the best clubs/bars in town. It's a 24 hour bar that is disguising as a city. Get the picture.

Travel Diary: Island Hopping in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines

I must admit, the trip to Bulalacao is definitely one of my most favorite and most memorable. It wasn't easy breeezy going there as the torrential rains and habagat winds have been pondering the rest of the country. Yet, the trip to Bulalacao had been planned since five years ago because there is a certain mystery about this 4th class municipality that has captured both my mind and heart. Ever since i started traveling back in 2007, my interests and way of traveling have changed dramatically. I now yearn for off the beaten path destinations, those of which normal travelers would most likely forego due to inaccessibility. Well, for me, that's always a good sign of wonderful things to come. 

I arrived early morning on a Friday. After a brief delay at the airport in Manila, i was off to San Jose Mindoro. It's not my first time in Occidental Mindoro, and i have visited Sablayan and even the charming Pandan Island, but this time around i was on transit bound for Bulalacao in the province of Oriental Mindoro, my 63rd province in my blessed country - The Philippines. 

As soon as i arrived at the airport, i went to ride a tricycle to go to the van terminal. There were vans which ply for the Roxas route. Bulalacao is about halfway. So, after about an hour of travel time and passing through scenic rice paddies, i arrived in Bulalacao. It has been raining on and off since i arrived but nobody can stop me to get my thirst for adventure. Renting a boat that would take me to my accommodations wasn't so hard. The efficient team at Tambaron Green Resort was there to answer all my queries. Visibility was super low as i was cruising on a boat. Good thing, the boat i rode is way bigger than the one i rode in Roxas bound for Olotayan Island. The waves were already big to begin with, which was a sign of things to come in the coming days. Instead of rushing all the islands, i reckoned breaking it in a few days would solve my wave woes. When i arrived at Tambaron Green, the staff was there to welcome me and my company. The next few days, i got to know more Toto and Len-Len as well as the other Mangyan people residing in the island. All in all, we're about less than ten people living in the 10 hectare island of Tambaron. The meals were such a hit that the fried and grilled fish i ate were so delicious. I haven't eaten anything like it, so it was memorable because it was my first time. 

The next few days were about cruising Mindoro and Tablas straight, both of which had the strongest waves i have encountered. Roughly speaking, our boat was probably playing with 20 foot waves and i skipped a heart beat too many times. But Mang Arnie is a former captain, and his credibility is unparalleled. 

Buyayao is said to be the most beautiful island in Bulalacao. Once owned by a rich Filipino family, now the island has been owned and managed by the government. Permit is hard to get but my charms and honest demeanor gave us a pass to the white island of Buyayao. There were a couple of men making sure that the island is well-kept. I spent about five hours in the island, eating my picnic lunch of friend lapu-lapu, grilled eggplant and a bottle of local rum.

Next, Siguicay is charming little island with untouched mangroves to boast. There's a little village with about less than 100 people living in the island, and most if not all are too shy to pose for a photo op. The drinking continues and waves of Suguicay was calmer. Going back to Tambaron after three hours was the worst boat ride of my life. The waves got bigger as hours pass by, and we're about less than an hour away from sunset. It didn't help that Mang Arnie was talking on his phone in the middle of open sea as the waves crash our boat from side to side. 

The next day, i would have wanted to visit Target (Alibatan Island) and Sibalat Island but the waves were just too unbearable for me already. So, finding an alternative lead me to Aslom, a lone sand bar in the middle of towering rocks and across Giyob town. There, after praying to the Sun God to shed us some light, i got my perfect tan. I would have stayed for five hours if only i did't forget to bring my trusty local rum. 

It didn't take long for me to get to Giyob town which cut the trip to about 30 minutes since Giyob is almost halfway San Jose and Bulalacao. 

With more free time in my hands, i waited to dry up in the one of the local sari-sari store. Downing about six San Miguel Beers, five indian mangoes and three plastic chips, i changed clothes and left the sari-sari store. It's a wonderful experience to be chatting with locals as Bulalacao town is way more commercialized while Giyob is your typical unspoilt baranggay. I would often chat with buyers and help the seller manage customers. 

I waited for about 10 minutes before a van finally appeared bound for San Jose. Didn't sleep the night before because i was still trying to remember the beauty of Bulalacao. 

In a few minutes, my plane will touch fown in Manila but my heart has been tucked to sleep in one of the beautiful islands of Bulalacao. Truly a magical place! And with amazing Mangyan people i have met. Perfect!